A Note to Herbert Phillip Blanchard (West Nova Scotia Regiment)Phillip Blanchard was born in 1921 in Spring Haven, Nova Scotia. The son of Albanie and Ester Blanchard, Phillip’s mother died before the outbreak of World War II. His father remarried a widow, Julienne Muise, who had two sons, and two daughters. Phillip had three brothers Raymond, Ambroise, and Nelson, and three sisters Celeste, Loretta, and Janet. His two half-brothers were Louis Muise and Jean Baptiste Muise.Five members of the combined family would serve their country during World War II. Phillip enlisted in the Army in 1939, as did his brother Raymond. Two years later his brother Ambroise also enlisted and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. In May 1942, their youngest brother Nelson enlisted in the Army. His half-brothers were also in the military. Louis served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Jean served in the Royal Canadian Army.Following basic training and service in Canada, Phillip was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade, West Nova Scotia Regiment and was part of the allied advance through Italy. As was common with most young servicemen, letters were written home. Sometime in the fall of 1943, Phillip wrote a letter home and enclosed a note to Herbert his godson who, at that time, was about five or six years of age.The letter reads as follows: “A note for Herbert" "Hello Herbert I was very happy to get a letter from you. But I was sorry to hear that you had been sick. Take good care of yourself Herbert and try not to get sick any more. Cause when I’ll go back home after the war. I want you to be big and strong. So don’t forget to be a good boy and help your mama all you can. And Santa Clause will always be good to you. So I’ll have to say bye, bye now wishing you all the luck in the world. From Phillip” Herbert would never see Phillip again. West Nova Scotia Regiment participated in some of the fiercest fighting of the Italian campaign at Cassino in the Liri Vally, during the early months of 1944. The Canadians had broken through the German lines. It was on the May 24th, 1944, at the age of 23, that Phillip was killed in action.A memorial service was held for both Phillip Blanchard and a fellow soldier, John Edward Doucette, from Quinan, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, a village near Springhaven. Two crosses were erected for them in the cemetery at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, and two empty coffins were lowered into the plots on that day. Both Phillip Blanchard and John Edward Doucette are buried in the Cassino War Cemetery, 139 kilometers from Rome. Phillip's grave is Plot 13 Row F Grave #18. The telegram advising that Phillip had been killed in action was delivered to his uncle Eugene and aunt Charlotte's home. When Phillip's aunt heard the news, she became physically ill and was sick for two days after receiving the news. It would be Phillip’s uncle, Eugene, who would tell Phillip’s cousins that he had been killed. Because they were little children they couldn't understand why their mother was so upset. It was the first time they had ever really seen their mother cry and become sick.The older members of the family, Phillip’s sisters and brothers, remember stories of his time at home and often mention that he was a very good singer and a guitar player. His uncle tells the story of his departure and going with him to the train station to see him, off. The uncle had purchased a pint of rum for Phillip, a little something to have during the journey. But, not wanting to make anyone aware of this, he attempted to slip it into Phillip’s pocket as the soldiers were ready to board the train. Thinking he had successful slipped the pint into the pocket unknown to others, he let go of the bottle. The pint fell to the ground and smashed! No special treat for Phillip on the train!Raymond Blanchard had also enlisted in September of 1939 on the same day as Phillip. He was posted to Aldershot in Nova Scotia and then to England, assigned as a Sergeant Major to troop training. The two brothers managed to see each other while in England. Encountering one another, Phillip addressed his brother with “hey Raymond". Phillip was, at the time, with an officer from his company. The officer was quite dismayed that someone would address a Sergeant Major in such a manner. Phillip was disciplined for addressing his brother in such an informal way. Army rules applied.Near the end of the war, Raymond requested a posting on the continent and was able to visit Phillip's grave in Italy. As for Herbert, he had safely kept the note from Phillip in a small box with his things. When he left home the box was left with his mother and today remains among the memories of a young Phillip Blanchard. Phillip’s four medals are in a special case together with a letter from the Minister of National Defense carefully kept by Phillip’s brother, Nelson.